The first Green School will open its doors in Paarl, Cape Town in February 2021.

The first Green School South Africa will open its doors in February 2021. Image credit: Green School South Africa

The first Green School South Africa will open its doors in February 2021. Image credit: Green School South Africa

The school is spread over eight hectares and is modelled on the first Green School established in Bali in 2008. The South African version is only the third in a planned international network of Green Schools, following the establishment of the second campus in New Zealand.

Constructed from naturally and locally sourced materials, the school is powered by solar-generated electricity, and the water balance has been carefully calculated to ensure that water extracted from the river and borehole is replenished with rainwater received. Administrative buildings and classrooms are set within vegetable gardens, orchards, and grain fields.

The school will open in line with government regulations on 15 February 2021, with a planned enrolment of 150 learners and 15 teachers. The Green School offers education from kindergarten to Grade 8 in 2021 and will expand to provide education up to Grade 12 by 2025. The school aims to maintain a ratio of one teacher to 10 learners.

The Green School South Africa campus is spatially defined by Paarl Rock, the Drakenstein Mountains and Simonsberg. The spatial arrangement at a macro level is what inspired the space making at the site-specific scale, and down to the individual buildings and spaces between them.

The campus constitutes of various clusters of buildings, nestled in amidst orchards, vegetable gardens, meandering routes, landscaped terraces and spill-out spaces. A series of organic shaped ‘werf’ walls weave the individual clusters of buildings into a coherent whole, creating a world of passageways and spaces for learners to discover. While waterbodies are connected with ‘lei water’ channels that are gravity fed, both referenced from the vernacular, Cape Dutch Architecture. The positions of the different zones and buildings have been carefully considered, taking into account passive design principals, feng shui and the Living Building petals. The result being harmonious spaces where humankind and nature can reconnect.

To further enhance this idea, all buildings are constructed from naturally and locally sourced materials to integrate the object within its surroundings. These organic shaped buildings with large oversailing leaf-like roof structures, punched openings, bay windows, clerestory windows, textured screening elements, create enticing and playful spaces for children to engage and explore.